Friday, August 28, 2015

My Emotions Runneth Over

By Kelly Bridgewater

May was a very hard month for my family. On the last day of April, my auntie went into the hospital. She was to stay for a few days. Nothing really to worry about, but as we came to find out, it was a big deal. On Friday, May 1st, my mother called to tell me that my ninety-six-year-old grandfather had passed away a couple of hours ago. I joked with my auntie that she wasn’t allowed to go to the hospital no more.

For the next week, my family and I had to attend a visitation and funeral for my grandfather. It was hard, but I survived. On the day of my grandfather’s funeral, Auntie was dismissed from the hospital, so my family decided to have someone stay with auntie while she lived in her home. I was there every day from 8 am to 2 pm. I watched over her. Made sure she took her pills and her breathing treatment, fed her, and cleaned up around her house.

Being busy with my auntie kept me from thinking about my grandfather. After a week of watching her, our family received the horrible news that she had an aggressive small cell lung cancer. If she kept smoking, she would be dead before the fourth of July. But we all wanted her around for a long time. Plus, the doctor had a good track record for curing this type of cancer. So Auntie decided to start chemo.

She had her first three days of chemo before my family took the Memorial Weekend to visit family in Huntsville, Alabama. When we returned, I took my boys to school while my husband went to work. I headed to take care of Auntie where my father-in-law greeted me at the door, explaining how worst Auntie had gotten over the weekend. I gave her her pills and cleaned up. Around 11, she had a hard time breathing, and I had to push her around in the living room in a chair. She couldn’t even walk to the bathroom. We rushed her to the emergency room.

The next morning on May 27, 2015, my mother-in-law called saying that auntie was leaving us. I shook so badly with tears running down my face. I’m surprised I made it to the hospital without hitting anyone. She died within minutes before I arrived.

Auntie died two weeks after finding out she had lung cancer. She was VERY close to our family. Like another grandmother who we loved very much. It still hurts our family.

But through all this trying time, I have learned the importance of keeping an emotion journal. I have noticed a lot of accomplished writers saying to do this, but I haven’t really had a lot of emotional moments in my short life, so I have never kept one. But with all this emotion, I started writing down my physical and mental state, so that I would have it when I needed to create a character that lost someone.

I think I will keep adding to this. It was very therapeutic for me to write in this journal. This blog entry has helped a lot too.  Thank you for allowing me to share my heart onto the page.

Do you keep an emotional journal? What do you write in it?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

C. E. Laureano: The Sword and the Song

By Kelly Bridgewater

Interview with C. E. Laureano:

1.      How did the Song of Seare Trilogy come about?

I’m a longtime fantasy reader, starting as a child with the Chronicles of Narnia and The Hobbit, but this particular series began with a single premise: what happens when you have a young man who is raised to rule, but his personal, religious, and philosophical beliefs are different than the country over which he’s meant to reign? The story went through a number of iterations. In the early drafts, Conor was already in his twenties and about to take the throne of Tigh. But I realized that the real story began much earlier, where those personal beliefs were formed: his fosterage with a rival king. As I dug into the story, I realized that Conor was only a small part— or maybe the culmination—of a generations-long struggle that has at last come to a breaking point. And so the final storyline of the Song of Seare trilogy was conceived.

2.       Why Celtic fantasy?

 I’ve been interested in Ireland for as long as I can remember, maybe because of my distant Irish heritage. I had the opportunity to travel there during college, and I’ve never felt such an instant affinity for a place. While America will likely always be the place I “hang my hat”, I realized that Ireland was my heart’s home. Ever since then, I’ve written Irish characters and settings. But it was only when I started reading books by Juliet Marillier—wonderful historical fantasies that showed the pagan/Christian conflict from the pagan point of view—I knew I wanted to do something similar with a Christian slant.

3.       How much is based on history and how much was made up?

The culture of Seare is very much based on ancient Ireland before the 10th century, but since relatively little is known about that time period, much of it is extrapolated from research done in the 1920’s. (Some of that research, like the idea that the Irish wore kilts, has since been disproven.) But the food, weaponry, law, and social structure of Seare is very similar to how things might have been in ancient Ireland. Of course, the addition of magic changes things, so I got to imagine how the existence of supernatural gifts and blood magic might have affected their culture. I also re-envisioned the faerie mythology from a neutral, mischievous role into something more malevolent.

4.       What kind of research did you do to write this book?

 I have a fairly extensive library on Irish history, and what I wasn’t able to buy, I checked out from the library (thank goodness for inter-library loan…some of my books came all the way from Nebraska.) Because Seare was united by a man who had been a mercenary in the Holy Land, I also did a lot of research on the Near East and the Roman Empire from that time period. You’ll see traces of Asian, Middle Eastern, and Greco-Roman influence in the Fíréin brotherhood, especially their fighting and training styles. I also used my background as a martial artist and fencer to create a fighting style that was believably cross-cultural.

5.       Why did you choose to write Christian/inspirational fantasy?

 I didn’t start out to write fantasy for the Christian market. I’d originally envisioned the series as having a Christian worldview but little overt religion. However, the coming of Christianity so heavily influenced the history of Ireland, removing it left my society feeling flat and unrealistic. Not to mention that I quickly found out Conor wasn’t happy without a wider perspective and deeper goals than just bringing peace or winning the throne. The spiritual thread came along organically and tied the story together.

6.       Who is your favorite character and why?

 That’s almost an impossible choice, but I’d have to say Conor, my primary hero. He’s definitely the one I find most personally relatable. He knows he was created for something greater, but he doesn’t always make the right decisions—he lets his emotions sway his thinking and he lets down the people who depend on him—but he always comes through in the end. In that way, he’s something of a Biblical hero than a superhero…David was described as a man after God’s own heart, but he still did some seriously stupid things.

7.       What do you hope readers will take away from your books?

 I didn’t want to write a “safe” story where you know that everything is going to be okay and everyone will come out unharmed—because real life isn’t like that. It can be scary and messy and unpredictable. But through it all, if you look hard enough, is the ever-present thread of God’s grace and provision. My greatest wish is that readers come away with the understanding that they have a purpose, that they matter, that God cares for them as individuals and not just as a face in the crowd. I’ll consider my job done if readers walk away with hope. 8. If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be? Aine…because it guarantees that I would also get to spend time with Conor and Eoghan! After all, one or the other is always shadowing her. Plus, she just seems like the type of person I’d like to hang out with: practical, no nonsense, and filled with interesting knowledge. She’s also the one you want around if you’re going to do something dangerous—her healing ability would come in handy!

8.       What do you think makes a book Christian or not?

Christian authors can’t help but create a world that reflects our beliefs in some way. Sometimes, it’s an overt parallel to historical Christianity as it is in the Song of Seare. Sometimes, it’s the presence of the values that we learn from the Bible: faith, love, hope, loyalty, perseverance. Even if God isn’t mentioned by name, if you look closely, you’ll often find Him there.

9.       Who are your fantasy writing inspirations?

My two direct inspirations for this series are Guy Gavriel Kay and Juliet Marillier, both of whom write lovely historical fantasy. But I also enjoy Karen Hancock, Patrick Rothfuss, Robert Jordan, David Farland, C.J. Cherryh…the list goes on.

10.   What’s on your bookshelf/e-reader?

My reading habits are rather eclectic, so you’ll find everything from non-fiction, biographies, and spiritual memoirs to romance, steampunk, literary fiction, and fantasy. Some of my current favorites are Patrick Carr, Mary Weber, A.G. Howard, Billy Coffey, and Susanna Kearsley. But I have at least a dozen paperbacks waiting to be read and hundreds on my e-reader. There’s just not enough time to consume all the wonderful books I come across. Not to mention all the research books I keep around to spark ideas for new projects.

Thank you Tyndale for providing these insightful questions with answers from C. E. Laureano, so the readers can learn more about her and her writing process.

Synopis from Amazon:
From Amazon

The shadow of war. A clash of brothers. A terrible sacrifice. In the face of powerful darkness, who will prevail?

The island of Seare is at war. The Red Druid is gathering strength and power to stand against Conor, Eoghan, and the brotherhood. But there is strife within the brotherhood as well. Eoghan still refuses to claim his rightful rule, and the resulting conflict creates an uncomfortable distance between him and Conor. When Conor leaves to find the key to defeating the Red Druid, Eoghan and Aine worry he will succumb to the danger. They set out on their own mission to defeat the Red Druid through Aine’s magical gifts.

But nothing―and no one―is as it seems.

My Thoughts:

I have really enjoyed the Song of Seare series and looked forward to getting back into the story with the addition of the third book The Sword and the Song. It is like returning home after attending college for four years. Sure, you have made visits, but to truly come home and sleep in your bed for a couple of nights before the reality of finding a job hits you full force. The Sword and the Song is another fantasy series that fits right up there with Ted Dekker’s Circle series.

I enjoy coming back and learning more about the relationship between Conor and Aine. They are spending more time together now and makes me want to spend more time with them too.

Laureano writes in a clear way with vivid descriptions that both readers familiar with the first two books or newcomers to the series can grasp and enjoy. I loved watching how Laureano uses the five senses to draw me into the story’s setting. I really feel like I’m walking through this foreign land and joining Conor and Aine on this quest to save their world.

The conflict, obviously, is more amped up in The Sword and the Song because it is the final book in this series. There is more near death experiences and the evil surrounds and taunts them more than in the other two books. While the first two books play around with world building and watching the characters interactions between each other and learning how to harness their gifts. The Sword and the Song allows them to use their gifts to overcome the evil.
There were moments were the story dragged, but the last twenty percent of the book sped up pretty fast. Even through the ending that seemed kind of cheapened for me. I waited three books to see this dramatic battle, and it really wasn’t that dramatic at all. I was disappointed with the ending.

In a tale of good versus evil, which parallels God versus Satan, C. E. Laureano’s final book The Sword and the Song welcomes me back to a familiar world with memorable characters but the ending had me frustrated and grasping for something bigger. I still recommend everyone who enjoyed the first two books in The Song of Seare series to still read this one because they probably want to know what happens too.

I received a complimentary copy of The Sword and the Song from Tyndale Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

After reading The Sword and the Song, come back and tell me if you agree with my opinion on the ending. Maybe I’m alone in feeling this way. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

What Alexandre Dumas Means to Me

By Kelly Bridgewater

Taken from Wikipedia
Have you heard of the name Alexandre Dumas? He’s a French writer. I couldn’t name a lot of French writers, but this one affected me when I was sixteen years old. He wrote a famous novel that most people have heard of, but they probably don’t associate the name with the title. Any ideas?

Give up?

Don’t worry. Most people don’t know the author of The Three Musketeers. I, personally, did not like this book as much as the one I’m going to talk about.

Have you ever read the 1,065 page book called The Count of Monte Cristo? I don’t’ mean the movie. It is horrible by the way. Take a 1000 plus page novel and make it into an hour and half movie and what do you get? So many parts left out to fill the time constraints. Sad!

During my sophomore year in high school, I loved to write creatively, so I signed up for the only creative writing course offered, but little did I know that the class was designed for seniors. Because I was an A/B student and received straight A’s in English, the administration allowed me to take the course. The first day in class, the teacher, Mr. Weller, handed out these thick books to everyone. Most of the students groaned because they thought it was a writing class not a reading class. They go hand-in-hand guys.

Anyway, the book was titled The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. We had all semester to read the book, but we had to read the first couple of chapters by the end of the week and write a one page essay about ourselves. No problem.

I went home and finished all my other homework before finding a comfortable place to curl up with the new given treasure. I was hooked instantly. Time flew by, but I didn’t notice. I was in Marseilles aboard a ship, coming home after a long stint on the ocean. Taken prisoner to Chateau d’if, thrown in the ocean in a body bag, captured by pirates and threaten to fight for my life. I ventured to an abandoned island where mountains of gold and treasure awaited for me to uncover and use for my own revenge. I slowly watched my enemies die and collapsed in on themselves. I learned the hard lesson of forgiveness and love.

Taken from Barnes and Nobles Website
We only had to read a couple of chapters by the end of the week, but I had the book completed in one week. I loved it so much that I read it through two more times before the semester ended.

Alexandre Dumas opened my eyes up to the world of classic literature. Before then, I had to read boring books like Animal Farm by George Orwell, which stifled my curiosity toward older books. But Dumas showed me that classic literature could be fun. You just have to find the right one to spark your interest.

I love how The Count of Monte Cristo laid the ground work for what I consider a great book even today. A story must have adventure, mystery, romance, sometimes revenge, forgiveness, justice, and suspense all wrap up in a nicely bound package.

Every year, I return to the hallow pages of my version of The Count of Monte Cristo and lose myself along the wonderful crafted story. A couple of years ago, my father bought me the Barnes and Nobles classic leather bound edition with the Sherlock Holmes edition. Both of them sit in places of honor on my book shelf.

What book do you return to every year to read for fun? Do you have a special edition of that book? What have you learned from that author?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Cathy Gohlke: Secrets She Kept

By Kelly Bridgewater

From Amazon
Back Cover Copy:

All her life, Hannah Sterling longed for a close relationship with her estranged mother. Following Lieselotte’s death, Hannah determines to unlock the secrets of her mother’s mysterious past and is shocked to discover a grandfather living in Germany.

Thirty years earlier, Lieselotte’s father is quickly ascending the ranks of the Nazi party, and a proper marriage for his daughter could help advance his career. Lieselotte is in love―but her beloved Lukas is far from an ideal match, as he secretly works against the Reich. Yet Lieselotte never imagined how far her father would go to ensure her cooperation.

Both Hannah’s and Lieselotte’s stories unfold as Hannah travels to Germany to meet her grandfather, who is hiding wartimes secrets of his own. Longing for connection, yet shaken by all she uncovers, Hannah must decide if she can atone for her family’s tragic past and how their legacy will shape her future.

My Thoughts: 

Cathy Gohlke newest book, Secrets She Kept, gripped my heart and made me ache for Lieselotte’s obstruction to a happy, normal life. Gohlke has written another World War II novel, Saving Amelie, and I truly enjoyed that book too. But her newest release, Secrets She Kept, ranked higher. I truly loved this book from the unique perspective on World War II to the trail of secrets that Hannah had to follow to discover more about her mother.

I really enjoyed the research and the story world that Gohlke created. Majority of World War II novels feature a character that had to survive the Holocaust at the hands of the Nazi’s, but Gohlke does include this, but the story doesn’t hinge on that incident. The majority of the dilemma centered on Hannah’s grandfather who ascended the ranks of the Nazi party and her brother, Rudy, who was proud to be a Nazi Youth. I really enjoyed seeing this different perspective on World War II. I knew how awful they were but to see the horror from Lieselotte’s perspective was haunting and memorable. I got swept away in the conflict occurring in and around Lieselotte and Hannah’s lives.

The plot features two different points of views. The first one occurs during the late 1930’s and through the years of World War II. This timeline is the story of Lieselotte and the struggles she had with her father and brother, who wanted her to be a proud Aryan woman who would bring honor to her father. On the other hand, I empathized with Hannah, Lieselotte’s daughter who struggled with her identity and just wanted to have some connection with a family. Both women were strong and heroic, not afraid of anything or anyone. Both timelines alternated nicely. I was never confused when the chapters changed point of views.

Secrets she Kept shows how hard forgiveness can be and how secrets can fester and ruin a person. Lieselotte had a really hard time with accepting God and his offer of forgiveness, especially after the entire dreadfulness she had seen in her life. Similarly, Hannah had a hard time forgiving her grandfather after learning all he had done during World War II. The secret’s Hannah’s grandfather kept all these years had damaged his life, something Hannah had to learn not to hold onto, or it would ruin her too.

The only problem I had with the story was anchoring the reader in the setting. When Gohlke described Lieselotte’s childhood home when Lieselotte was younger and when Hannah came to visit, it wasn’t really detailed. I knew there was a library, a kitchen, and a bedroom, but my imagination was allowed to roam free. In comparison, the images at the concentration camp were detailed and sickening to image. I felt sick to my stomach as I read those gruesome scenes.

In short, Cathy Gohlke’s Secrets She Kept is an emotionally gripping story that shows the affects of the Nazi’s on their families and stayed with me long after I finished reading the book. Fans of other World War II stories should pick this book up and get lost in the pages. The dual narrative tugged at my heart while I anxiously traveled this journey to learn the truth with Lieselotte and Hannah. 

I received a complimentary copy of Secrets She Kept from Tyndale Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Cathy Gohlke
From Amazon
Cathy Gohlke's Writing Bio:

Cathy Gohlke is the two-time Christy Award-winning author of the critically acclaimed novels Saving Amelie, Band of Sisters, Promise Me This (listed by Library Journal as one of the best books of 2012), William Henry Is a Fine Name, and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires (listed by Library Journal as one of the best books of 2008), which also won the American Christian Fiction Writers' Book of the Year Award. 

Cathy has worked as a school librarian, drama director, and director of children's and education ministries. When not traipsing the hills and dales of historic sites, she, her husband, and their dog, Reilly, divide their time between Northern Virginia and their home on the banks of the Laurel Run in Elkton, Maryland. 

Where to connect with Cathy Gohlke:

Where to purchase Secrets She Kept:
Your favorite local bookstore

What aspect of the World War II horror sticks with you the most? Why?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sarah Sundin: Through Waters Deep

By Kelly Bridgewater

From Amazon
Back Cover Copy:

It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges--and dangers--await them.

Sarah Sundin takes readers to the tense months before the US entered WWII. Readers will encounter German U-boats and torpedoes, along with the explosive power of true love, in this hopeful and romantic story.

My Review: 

Being a huge fan of Sarah Sundin’s Wings of Glory and Wings of the Nightingale series, I couldn’t wait to jump right into the first book of her new series, Waves of Freedom. Sundin does not disappoint. I enjoy the historical research and setting with characters that I fell in love with. Through Waters Deep is another hit out of the park for Sundin.

Writing a historical novel is a lot of work. But Sundin does a great job at inviting me into 1941 that I feel like I’m on a Navy ship, manning the guns with the salty air teasing my nostrils even though I have never been on a ship in my entire life. I like how Sundin really gets down and dirty with the tension surrounding the United States before we entered World War II. Even though the story does develop during the tension before the Second World War, it really does not have any questionable content. Personally, I really never learned about all the conflict before. It was nice to learn something while taking this journey with Mary and Jim.

Speaking of Mary and Jim, I really liked getting to know Mary Stirling, the shy Boston Navy Yard Secretary who enjoys being invisible. Mary and Jim Avery, the Naval Officer, grew up together in Vermilion, Ohio, but Jim was fascinated with Quintessa, Mary’s friend instead of her. The tension between Mary and Jim stems from them not communicating with each other about their true feelings. Overall, I really enjoyed how Sundin allow the characters to have a second chance at a relationship and dilemma’s from their pasts, which affected their present situation. Sundin uses the book of Nehemiah to strengthen Jim and the other Navy soldiers. None of the spiritual content was overwhelming; it reinforced the characters’ decisions.

Through Waters Deep was Sundin’s first attempt at including a mystery in her historical romance. As an avid fan of mysteries, I believe Sundin did a good job. I followed the clues just like Mary did with her shorthand notes and tried to figure out who the saboteur was before Mary figured it out. I enjoy the mystery element and hope Sundin does another one.

I love how each of Sundin’s story begins during peace time where the couple gets to know each other and start falling in love. This allows me to get to know and understand each individual character at the same time. After they fully are enraptured with each other, Sundin sends him/her or both off to fight in the war where the battle for their love is mirrored by the fighting surrounding them. Sundin also draws me into the struggles, thoughts, and emotions of each character that by the time the book is finished, I feel like I’m losing contact with a couple of close friends. Makes me want to read the book again, which I will definitely do.

Through Waters Deep is an original and unpredictable story that will please fans of Kate Breslin, Liz Tolsma, Cara Putnam, Cathy Gohlke, and Melanie Dobson. I truly lost track of time as I embraced the romantic issues between Mary and Jim that mirrored the conflict in the Atlantic Ocean months before the bombing at Pearl Harbor.

Always thrilling, Sarah Sundin’s Through Waters Deep is a deeply moving story filled with a heart pounding mystery, memorable characters, and research so real it invited me to experience life in 1941.

I received an ARC copy of Sarah Sundin's Through Waters Deep from Revell Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own. 

Sarah Sundin
From Amazon
Sarah Sundin's Writing Bio:  

Sarah Sundin enjoys writing about the drama and romance of the World War II era. She is the author of the upcoming Waves of Freedom series (Through Waters Deep, August 2015), the Wings of the Nightingale series (With Every Letter, 2012, On Distant Shores, August 2013, and In Perfect Time, 2014), and the Wings of Glory series (A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow). 

A mother of three, Sundin lives in northern California. She works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches Sunday school and women's Bible studies. She belongs to American Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Authors Network, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. Her novel On Distant Shores was a double finalist for the 2014 Golden Scroll Awards. In 2011 she received the Writer of the Year Award from the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

Where to connect with Sarah Sundin:

Where to purchase Through Waters Deep:
Your Local Favorite Bookstore

What is your favorite aspect of Sarah Sundin's writing? Is it the romance? Characters? World War II history? 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Christy Barritt: Dust and Obey *GIVEAWAY*

By Kelly Bridgewater

From Amazon
Back Cover Copy:

When Gabby St. Claire’s ex-fiancé, Riley Thomas, asks for her help in investigating a possible murder at a couples’ retreat, she knows she should say no. She knows she should run far, far away from the danger of both being around Riley and the crime. 

But her nosy instincts and determination take precedent over her logic. At the retreat center she feels like she’s stepped into the pages of a creepy gothic novel: an isolated island that’s often foggy, an old lodge with a dark history, and a small pool of suspects who each have either motive, means, or opportunity for murder. When another life is threatened, the risk intensifies. 

Gabby and Riley must work together to find the killer. In the process, they have to confront demons from their past and deal with their present relationship. If they don’t learn to trust each other, they could both end up as fodder for the supposedly cursed island’s folklore. 

My Thoughts:

If you have read any of the Squeaky Clean series, then you know that you can’t put down them down. Christy Barritt has a way of grabbing you and not letting go. Right from the first page, I was thrown into the action, and the tension escalated from there. I was held captive as I flipped the pages waiting to see what troubles would find Gabby and Riley next. As Dust and Obey progressed, I started to fall more in love with Gabby and Riley, begging for their happily-ever after. Dust and Obey is the tenth book, well actually the eleventh, and I have loved every single one of them. You don’t have to read them in order. They are stand alone books because of the mystery hidden in the pages, but it helps to have some of the background played out in the past books to understand the emotions occurring between the different characters.

As a longtime fan of the Squeaky Clean series, I have seen the dilemmas and struggles that Gabby and Riley’s relationship has undergone. This book also brings more trouble to their relationship, but there is a happy ending for me.

I, personally, enjoy how Barritt captures Gabby’s train of thoughts and allows me to follow her emotional journey with her. This is Barritt’s greatest strength in her writing. I really feel like I am right there with Gabby as she decides between Riley and her forever peace.

As Barritt writes about sixty-four percent into Dust and Obey, “Murky history, dead bodies, and secret passages. What more could you want?” This sums up the conflict pouring off the pages of her latest mystery book. I truly loved Dust and Obey and recommend it to her fans, new and familiar, with all her books.

I received a complimentary copy of Dust and Obey from Christy Barritt and the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Purchase Dust and Obey


I have two copies of Christy Barritt’s Love Inspired Books, The Last Target and High-Stakes Holiday Reunion to give away. Enter at the Rafflecopter below!

*Open to US Residents only! Sorry!

Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Amanda G. Stevens: Take and Give

By Kelly Bridgewater

From Amazon
Back Cover Copy:

Austin Delvecchio has tried to use his Constabulary resources to track down his missing girlfriend Violet. He finds a stranger instead, held illegally and mistreated. Rescuing the man will make Austin's boss an enemy, but ignoring the situation will mean the man's death.

Lee Vaughn has lost the most important person in her life. She continues his work her way, providing black market medical assistance to Christians and allowing fugitive Violet to live with her. Then she learns what really happened to Marcus, and the danger following him leaves them all with only one option: to flee.

To make it to freedom, all four will have to rely on their traveling companions. But that's not easy when confronting past hurts, fear, and distrust.

My Thoughts:

I have read the first two books in this series by Amanda G. Stevens, and I couldn’t wait to get my hand on the third edition. Since I was familiar with the first two, I expected Stevens to completely engross me in the action on the page. Take and Give picked up where the second one, Found and Lost, left off. I jumped right into the action and allowed my imagination to carry back to this dystopian society where Christians are considered dangerous.

One of my favorite parts of Stevens’ books is the way she approaches the external and internal conflicts of each character. She does a great job at reaching down into the soul of each character and spilling their problems on to the pages. Lee has been a reoccurring character since the first book, Seek and Hide, but Stevens never approached the story from her perspective, but in Take and Give, Lee finally is allowed to have a voice. Boy, do I get a chance to learn and understand more about Lee. I empathize with her struggles about Marcus and God. It was heart-wrenching. The transformation of Lee and Austin is deeply impacting. While Stevens allows the conservation about God to flow from a number of external characters, it is never preachy and condemning to unbelievers. The discussions about God was the voice of reason. It allows even me, who has been a believer for twenty years, to ponder why I believe in God.

Like I already stated, the story picks up right where the second book left off. I returned to the story world without so much as a glitch in my imagination. I loved following Lee, Austin, Violet, and Marcus as they flee to Texas. The story does not drag at all. I anxiously turn the pages, waiting breathlessly for them to be caught by the Constabulary. The dialogue enhances the story with no repetitive jargon. I felt like I was there, hiding in the truck’s bed or in the church, listening to all their conversations.

The conflict is very internal. Each individual has to decide whether to believe the current government who spills lies about Christians and their plans to re-educate the citizens or follow the rebels to Christ, which could cost them their life. In the same vein, the romantic tension lies just below the surface for Austin and Lee. Austin wants to pursue a relationship with Violet while Lee, however, struggles with allowing Marcus fully into her heart.

Take and Give is an original and unpredictable book for fans of any age. There is no questionable content, and it would be a good discussion piece to start a discussion about why Christians should stand strong on their faith in every day circumstances. Take and Give is a great book to join the dystopian genre, but also, I believe fans of the popular Left Behind series would find this series enjoyable. I can’t wait to see if there is a fourth book!

A book for the masses, Amanda G. Stevens’ latest installment, Take and Give, is a thrilling story about what could happen in America if the government takes away the freedom to worship and serve God. I loved Stevens ability to confront the difficult ideas that keep a lot of naysayers away from following God. Her dystopian society is realistic and rememberable.

I received a complimentary copy of Take and Give from David C. Cook Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own. 

My Rating:  5 out of 5 stars

****This book is also on Booktalk where I am a regular reviewer.******

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Thomas Locke: Trial Run

By Kelly Bridgewater

From Amazon
Back Cover Copy:

Reese Clawson's work is mind-bending--literally. Her company specializes in global data analysis for an elite group of industry executives, and now a lucrative government contract is moving her into the realm of cutting-edge intelligence gathering. She is determined to crack the limits of consciousness--and in doing so, the boundaries of secrets and lies. But her experiment crashes as test subjects slide into a coma-like state. Reese is left scrambling to maintain control, drawing three disparate people into the search for answers--an adrenaline-amped thrill junkie with altered brain chemistry, an Italian scientist working on remote-viewing technology, and a math prodigy whose algorithms subvert computer encryption.

Will this piecemeal team prevail when a government operative is sent to investigate? As the threads of perception and reality become tangled and even time itself twists in unexpected directions, one warning remains clear: what you don't know can kill you.

My Thoughts:

I really couldn’t wait to jump right in and read Thomas Locke’s new book Trial Run. I enjoy suspense and thriller books that feature a threat to our current way of living. I like learning new things when I read a book. I enjoy being taken on a ride that keeps getting worse and worse for the characters in the novel. Even though my opinion on this book is going against the flow, I still will state my opinion. I really did not like Trial Run.

This book would be good for fans of books with a lot of technical jargon and scientific theory. Trial Run has lots and lots of technical jargon. When I read an entire paragraph and had to scratch my head, wondering what Locke just had the character reveal to me, I get confused. It is hard as a reader to not understand what the characters are doing and talking about.

In the beginning of the book, many different characters came on board, and I really saw no connection between any of them. After a while, I became confused with what was happening in the story. What does Charlie and Gabriella’s story have to do with Dor Jen? What about the two college students, Trent and Shane? It was hard to feel connected to any of the characters.

There really is no action or conflict occurring on the page. I don’t know if this is because I really had no idea what the technical jargon meant, so I was confused, making this story hard to follow. While there appeared to be something sinister happening below the scene with the ascents, I really never felt any internal or external conflict in the characters or surrounding the characters.

Trial Run was really hard for me to keep reading. I did give up around page 200 and flip to the ending. Even the ending wasn’t satisfactory to me. As someone who adores suspense and thriller books, this one definitely did nothing for me. I wouldn’t recommend it anyone. I kept coming up with different books to read while avoiding going back to this book. I picked it up four different times and read about fifty pages, then sat it down before picking it up another book that captured my attention.

While the plot did nothing for me, the writing was good. Locke does have a good handle of how a book should be written with an even amount of dialogue and prose. Each dialogue from each character was different. I had no trouble distinguishing between each individual character.

I received a complimentary copy from Revell Publishing and the opinions stated are all my own.